Saturday, June 2, 2007

I cannot sleep without the radio.

Artist:Circa Survive
Album: On Letting Go
Label: Equal Vision Records
Release Date: 5.29.07

With every new release, bands must find a way to balance progression and familiarity. It’s a fine line to walk: if they change too much, fans call them sellouts. If they stay too much the same, fans berate them for not taking chances. Circa Survive are trying to find that line with On Letting Go.

Beginning with a guitar blast on “Living Together,” the album soon dives headfirst into frontman Anthony Green’s unique vocals. The entire album leans very heavily on Green’s stylings, and rightfully so. His voice is a major selling point for the band, and it is mainly what helps them stand out from the rest of the world’s experimental rockers. With the new album, Green maintains the high-pitched, ethereal qualities he has always shown. While he’s not stepping very far outside his comfort zone, he gives a solid performance on every track. Out of all of Green’s musical projects, I think his voice fits best with the swirling guitars and pounding rhythms of Circa Survive’s songs.

The band keeps up the energy with “In The Morning And Amazing,” a pit-inducing anthem where both instruments and vocals soar. Steve Clifford's drumming is a particular highlight on this track, punctuating Green’s strains perfectly.

Circa’s music has an otherworldly quality to it that is hard to find in most music. Listening to it feels like falling through space, or wandering through a dark forest alone. Alone is a key word is describing Circa’s sound – there’s a sense of desperation, an intense need to find others to connect with. At the same time, one can feel deeply connected to Green and his band when listening carefully to their songs.

“Mandala” sounds promising with its distorted guitars, but on closer listen it disrupts the flow of the album a bit. It is not really a bad song, but it may have done better placed elsewhere in the tracklisting.

Things don’t pick up again until partway through “Semi Constructive Criticism,” when the guitars crash and Green lets loose with the eerie wails he is so known for. However, even better than this track is “Kicking Your Crosses Down,” which has a heavy, clear beat unlike most Circa songs.

“Carry Us Away” incorporates some beautiful guitar work, as does “Close Your Eyes To See.” The album’s closer, “Your Friends Are Gone,” has a slow buildup to a final minute or two of organized collapse, with Green’s voice soon fading into nothing.

So the question remains: has Circa Survive found that line?

Yes. However, they have a very faint grasp on it. While On Letting Go is an astounding album, almost nothing recorded here shows any great departure from Juturna. So if you were looking for Juturna Part 2, this album will be no disappointment. If you were looking for more experimentation from the man who is known for it, you’ll have to wait for his next release.

01. Living Together
02. In The Morning And Amazing *
03. The Greatest Lie
04. The Difference Between Medicine And Poison Is In The Dose
05. Mandala
06. Travel Hymn
07. Semi Constructive Criticism
08. Kicking Your Crosses Down *
09. On Letting Go
10. Carry Us Away
11. Close Your Eyes To See
12. Your Friends Are Gone *

* - standout tracks

For fans of: Chiodos, The Fall Of Troy, The Sound Of Animals Fighting.

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